tv Foreign Policy in 2014 CSPAN January 27, 2014 1:25am-2:53am EST
with other countries. the united states has an influence over all the countries in the middle east. iraq needs a long-term friendship with the united states, a friendship based on democracy and respect of human rights and a stable, successful state, not the state that is working with discrimination and oppression. i think americans understand the problems of a rack, and they should concentrate on iraq once again to fix the lack of stability. we americans also do not want iraq to support terrorism. >> one last question.
-- the americans do not want iraq to support terrorism. >> one last question. iraq is scheduled to have elections at the end of april. what would you like to see the united states do around those elections to make sure they are positive? we have seen elections that were extremely helpful to democracy and elections that were extremely disrupt full. what can the united dates due to ensure these are constructive elections and not destructive. >> there should be a message that should come from all countries to iraq that the election should be organized in a just and transparent way.
we should be prepared. we should have a minimum stability, and there should not be decisions that are controversial, like the one that was taken two days ago, the reaction to al qaeda and so on. we should avoid concessional mobilization in order to be able to organize fair and just elections that can provide a solution to the iraqi problem. if we don't have international observers, if we do not have all these, the elections can be distractive. this is a crossroads between stability or, god forbid, other
more intricate problems. >> please join me in thanking the speaker. [applause] thank you. >> thank you all very much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> on the next>> "washington journal" on the state of the union speech. rebecca adams on how young people play a role in the health care law. with executive director of the center for long and social policy. all of that on "washington journal" with your calls, tweets, and facebook comments on
c-span. >> i realized that tax reform and entitlement reform will not be easy. the politics will be hard for both sides. none of us will get 100% of what we want. the alternative will cost us jobs. our economy. hardship on millions of hard- working americans. let's said party interests aside and work to pass a budget that withces reckless cuts smart savings and wise investments in our future. let's do it without the brinksmanship that scares off investors. by greatest nation on earth jumping from one manufactured crisis to the next. we cannot do it.
[applause] let's agree. let's agree right here right now to keep the people's government open and pay our bills on time and uphold the full faith and credit of the united states of america. >> watch president obama deliver this yours address. >> they were at the brookings institution during the release
of its foreign-policy recommendations for 2014. new york times chief washington correspondent david singer moderated. this is an hour and a half. >> good morning, everyone. welcome to brookings. i'm the acting director and vice president of the foreign-policy program here. welcome to today's events. we have foreign-policy recommendations for 2014. in five days, president obama will stand before the u.s. congress and the american eagle and deliver it his state of the union address. in recent years, he is likely to focus mainly on domestic, political, and economic issues. this reflects the rising concern in obama's phrase for nationbuilding at home.
the declining interest among the american public and getting involved in other nations business. president obama came to office in 2009 on a wave of optimism about his transformational residency. five years later, it is fair to say that the mood has soured and the hopes have didn't. no doubt that deep economic session of 2008 deltas white house a we can't. a more profound political and social changes have also -- growinggainst him polarization, gridlock, and dysfunction in our political system being high on the list. espied challenges at home, the president has set forth an ambitious list of priorities when it comes to foreign-policy and national security. refocusing the fight against terrorism, reducing nuclear weapons, negotiating with iran, restarting direct negotiations between israelis and
palestinians. he also faces enormous challenges goes by the uprising around the world. he faces the continued rise of china and the unpredictability of north korea. the foreign-policy program at brookings is releasing its own assessment of these actions and the steps president obama's administration should take to make the most of his remaining three years in office. we are excited to present our flagship publication. as we did last year, we have identified the big staffs the president should make to advance u.s. security interests in the world. we have set for five areas where the white house should double down on its previous bad and move the agenda forward on iran, cuba, syria, and asia. we have pointed out a number of black spots. low probability, but high impact
events, that could derail the president's plans. we have added a new category of nightmare scenarios. we have also pointed out several areas where the president should hold his cards and stay the course. before introduce the panel, let me either one or two overarching points that bob kagan made in the introductory memo. in our view, over the last year, the global situation has deteriorated. america's role looks more uncertain and tentative. americans are disillusioned about our traditional leadership role, and cuts in defense and foreign aid ending are raising questions about our international system.
the revelations about u.s. intelligence collection in our own country and around the world reinforces a sense of doubt about the underbelly of u.s. predominance in the world. to restore u.s. leadership, president obama should reinvest in the global order in which norms are not only articulated and endured, but protected and enforced wherever possible of stop this means doubling down on higher standards in the trade arena, rolling back nuclear weapons development, and protecting civilians from the ravages of civil conflict and authoritarian violence. it also means making new bets on rules for governing the internet that would protect our profound
interest in an open information system. we should also make the most of regional and international peacekeeping efforts in africa and protect our investments in a more stable afghanistan. while pursuing these opportunities, the administration must mitigate potential damage posed by the turmoil of the arab world, fraying alliances, and provocations from russia and china. we believe that with dedicated presidential leadership, properly resourced by congress, these threats could be managed and the united states can remain the leader of the liberal global order. let me now introduce our panelists. david sanger. david is currently the national security correspondent for the new york times. he has reported from new york, tokyo, washington on a wide variety of issues.
foreign policy, globalization, nuclear proliferation. he has also been part of two reporting teams that won pulitzer prizes. he is known for his work in tokyo. he has also worked in southeast asia. he got his start working in the economics arena and the business pages of the new york times. he will moderate from the podium and will pose questions to our panelists. let me quickly introduce them. in no particular order, maybe the order in which they're sitting. bruce is a senior fellow here at our center for 21st-century security and intelligence. we also have a senior fellow at the center for 21st-century security and intelligence focusing in particular on afghanistan and illicit networks around the world. steve is a senior fellow with our center for the u.s. and europe.
he directs our nonproliferation projects. mark is the director of a center on middle eastern policy and also a senior fellow who will cover all the various things going on in that part of the world. suzanne is a senior fellow at the same center and she runs an iran project. she will speak on iran. we also have a guess just off a plane from korea. he will be our expert on asia, china, the koreas, etc. we have the director of the china center near. thank you for your attention. >> thank you. >> thanks very much.
it is great to be here. it is wonderful to see such a big crowd. his is one of my favorite events your brookings. i think this book really -- it is one that i keep on my desk all through the year. i refer to it. when i talk to my many friends, i see what they wrote. sometimes it is welcome and sometimes it is not. i have two observations from reading through his year's entries. it is about half as big as last year. the official explanation is that last year was the beginning of the second term. the unofficial explanation is that this group has also solved so many of the world's problems.
if you read thematically, what really jumps out is america's contribution to the world. through many of the other issues, their recommendations for what the president should do and then the frustration that the united states right now, despite its status as the world's largest military and economic power, and its biggest diplomatic power, has a hard time convincing other nations of what is in the world's interest, america's interest, and their own interests. advanced questions to each of our authors and scholars, i want
to focus on the question of where american leverage is. if it is gone, where did it go? i thought i would start with you. you have written a fascinating short paper here on egypt. you write that the u.s. cannot prevent the radicalization of the muslim brotherhood. but we can seek to mitigate the effects of this radicalization. one year ago, we all thought that the muslim brotherhood appear to be in command of the country. the question was, could be moderate them as leaders?
can you moderate them from a war against the military that unseated them? it was interesting to note that you wrote that foreign aid cuts put into effect had no effect. tell us why that was. tell us why you think we could create some leverage with the egyptian in the coming weeks and months. >> on the narrow question of u.s. foreign assistance to egypt, i think one reason why that decision, which was made in october, and did not have much impact, is because it took so long. according to news reports, chuck hagel, the secretary of defense, had won the egyptian military prior to their takeover that are eight would be at risk if they took that that.
they were not dissuaded. in response to the coup, the u.s. did not immediately cut off assistance. there is a provision that suggested that that was what they should do. having failed to exercise leverage -- having failed to establish the credibility of the threat that had been made, the administration, when it finally made the decision to suspend certain forms of assistance, was just trying to draw a line under the problem. i do not think anyone here or in cairo predicted it would have that effect. the broader problem that you identified of reduced american
leverage is not about the choices that have been made here in washington. it is about what has gone on in the region. it is about what has gone on in egypt. they are facing the wrath of the military and the full on crack down and believe they are fighting for or their organizations survival. -- context, const x there's very little that any outsider could do to affect things. given that, what can the u.s. do
to protect its own interests, because radicalization of even a small percentage of brotherhood supporters or members would present a significant upswing in the violence in the region. what the united states can seek to do in this region to mitigate is to set limits on its own involvement and culpability in what is a very far-reaching campaign of repression and suppression in egypt, which is extended not only to the brotherhood, not only to the violent extremists that are a real problem to the united states and egypt and the region, but has extended as well to all kinds of peaceful political dissenters. so the united states at this
point i think, needs to correct its fundamental error in the three years since the egyptian revolution where it has overinvested in each leadership, the military council after the revolution, president morsi and the general, let them not repeat that mistake and instead can collar file u.s. interests in counterterrorism extend to threats against the united states and u.s. interests and we are not going to engage in a wholesale investment in an egyptian war on terror that is defined to include all of its political opponents. >> thanks. so, bruce, we heard from tamara that our chances for influencing the egyptians are a, relatively low, and secondly that we shouldn't overinvest in the leadership. fortunately, we have huge
influence and haven't overinvested in the saudis which you have written about here. what jumped out at me was that the saudis have spent $25 billion in the past year and will spend 30 this year in jordan, bahrain, in yemen, in pakistan. amounts that really dwarf anything we are spending in that region. for example, they were in full support of the coup in egypt that we were just discussing. so tell us a little bit about where president obama is in influencing the saudis and tell us a little bit as well about what your concern is if the saudis become convinced that the negotiations with iran won't work.
>> sure. saudis are deeply disappointed in president obama, as ted noted in the beginning, they were very optimistic, like everyone else about obama in the beginning. riyad is the first arab country president obama went to but the saudis have become disillusioned and they refuse to take their seat at the u.n. security council and argued that was a spite to the united states. i'm not sure most americans feel that way, but that was the saudi argument. they promised to give the government of lebanon $3 billion worth of arms and to buy them from the french and that is also to be a spite to the united states that we won't get the arms from the united states and the media is filled with saudi anger and disappointment for the united states.
but at the end of the day, the united states-saudi relationship is not broken. this is our oldest alliance in the middle east that dates back to 1945 and continues to function in many ways despite the public irritation and the reason it does and the reason we don't have that much leverage is we need each other. saudi arabia is not only important to global energy supplies and may not provide americans with their oil anymore but it is critical to the functioning of the global economy and without saudi oil being distributed, there would be severe energy disruptions. secondly, their soft power in the islamic world remains very important. they are the home of the two holiest mosques in islam. they are very important to us in attempts to fight al qaeda. the last two attempts were thwarted by saudi intelligence.
they need us, too. saudi arabia's defense against external aggression is from the united states of america. no one else can provide them with that kind of shield and that applies to the iranians. we have a relationship where we both need each other and therefore can't push too hard the other way. what the arab awakening did was expose their fundamental values at the bottom of this relationship -- are not shared at all, that we don't have anything really in common with the house of saud with an absolute monarchy with their views that are other end of the spectrum. we support democracy. they make no pretense of supporting democracy and we saw that vividly this year in egypt. the saudis were critical to the coup, to helping the coup take place. they were the first within minutes to recognize the new government and they orchestrated
a multibillion dollar aid package to the government. the statements say, don't worry what the americans do, we'll outbid them. the americans give you a billion dollars, we'll make sure you get $6 billion. it's hard to have a lot of leverage on on a country that has this much money. when it comes to iran, my own view at the end of the day, if the united states in the p-5 plus one succeeds in getting a deal with the iranians which the six negotiating parties accept, the saudis will accept it as well. they do not want to be the odd man out rejecting the deal that would be in effect the permanent five members of the security council and the iranians and don't want to be in the position where they are the odd man out standing next to netanyahu. nothing they hate more than being associated with israel and especially netanyahu on some global issue and very
uncomfortable that they are being put in that camp. they don't want to be partners with netanyahu. at the end of the day, they will accept the deal and criticize it along the way, but at the end of the way they will come along to be part of the process. >> if there is no deal -- >> it's up to the americans to fix it. the saudi position will be you tried, it didn't work, now use force. and we will be happy to hold your coat. \[laughter] >> would they be happy to go buy a bomb from the pakistanis? >> one of the great unknowns is whether they have already got a deal with the pakistanis for a bomb. that's one of the mysteries of the contemporary middle east and south a asia.
-- south asia. why does pakistan have the fastest growing arsenal in the world and producing more bombs by double or triple? is there some external partner who they have a commitment to. on this issue, there is a lot of smoke, very little fire, but if you ask my bottom line, i think there have been discussions between the saudis and the pakistanis and the saudis have the commitment to provide a bomb and you can take it to the bank and cash it for probably nothing.
[laughter] >> ok. let me turn now to steve. steve, we don't have a lot of leverage in egypt. we don't have a lot with the saudis. surely with president putin, we are awash in it. so you have written a couple of different essays in here, but the two areas where we are concerned is the ukraine and whether or not putin will play or will foil the president's large objective at the beginning when he came into office in 2009 of truly bringing down the number of nuclear weapons around the world and you don't seem terribly optimistic about the chances of going beyond the new start deals. talk to us about those two elements. >> in the paper that possibly russia might go rogue in its neighborhood, this is the question about putin's concern that the european union is
intruding on his turf. with the association agreements that were with muldova and georgia last november, the russians were pleased that the ukranians froze their process. as we look at this, the concern is that sometime in the spring, the russians might take punitive actions against them and if european union gets back on the track, ukraine could find itself in putin's target site. there is not a lot of leverage the united states has to exercise over the russians and it reflects a couple of things. one is the deterioration of the u.s.-russian relationship. it is a thinner relationship. we don't have much leverage to say, if you do a, we will undercut you on b. there is a huge balance in
interests. for russia and putin, building influence is the number one priority. it's important to his vision of russia as a great power and important to his domestic, being plucked in the neighborhood, having that influence is important with the constituency that he looks to for support at home and looks at the european union and says and says they are challenging my projects and i'm going to push back. in the case of the ukraine and we have -- we may have leverage there but it will be maximized if we can work with the europeans and won't be leverage used with the russians. and it seems to be moving in this direction a little bit. yesterday they announced that some ukranian visas had been revoked because they had connections to use of force. there is more to be played here in terms of threatening sanctions, both visa sanctions and financial sanctions against a group of people against that inner circle, because if they begin to worry they can't travel to the west and here's where it is important to bring in the european union.
the kids go to school and vacations in europe, they want to travel to europe. somehow if washington and europe can put that pressure, you may have an impact on events on the ground in ukraine that could discourage use of violence and b, i think this will be hard to do but prod him into a good- faith effort to negotiate. i don't think the europeans and united states has with russia. i think barack obama would like to further reduce u.s. and russian nuclear weapons. you have to have a partner that is prepared to play. putin is not prepared to engage in further nuclear reductions. if you want to do that, you have to solve nuclear defense. you have to solve prompt global strike, the russians have tightened up the knots but they aren't solving the issues. in the case of nuclear weapons, there may be an opportunity to move forward on this if the russians change their mind. until they do it, there's not much that president obama can
do. he should not get into a negotiation with himself, although there may be a couple of small steps he could take. one is to accelerate the implementation of the start treaty. the treaty requires that be accomplished by 2018. that could be accomplished this year and could be something that the president could say, i have played a role in reducing nuclear weapons but you wouldn't do that without affecting the view in moscow and position the united states to have some demonstrating deliverables at the conference, the nonproliferation treaty conference in 2015. >> steve, any possibility that the president could go down significantly below the new start numbers? he has plenty of studies on his
desk that suggest 1,000 weapons or even fewer would be perfectly sufficient, that you could rotate some of these in and out and be on call at the same time, which is of good news that the people in the air force are having a hard time passing their exams. [laughter] i'm running them, silos might help that process. what is the downside to acting unilaterally? >> the joints chief of staffs validated the president's proposal by a third and bring it down to 1,000 strategic warheads. some in the administration say if that is the number that suffices for deterrence and suffices for america's war plans, why should we let russia keep us at a hire level. that is a minority view. i think there is probably going to be a stand in the administration that says let's see if the russians are prepared to engage.
at 2015, if it is clear that the at 2015, if it is clear that the russians are stuck, there might be that discussion within the administration about do we do something union latleal with our force -- union late recall with our force structure. given where i think republicans are in congress, potentially provokes a fairly big fight with congress. >> on afghanistan, the big news in the past couple of days has been the pentagon saying well, if we are going to keep a force in afghanistan after 2014, the biggest it should be is 10,000 and includes other nato allies, but we are prepared to live with zero if we can't get president karzai to operate with us. two questions for you. first of all, does it make any
difference -- can 10,000 have any significant effect in afghanistan from either a security or a development view point? and secondly, if you go back to last year's report or other reports like this, you'll find discussion about negotiations with the taliban. the only one who seems interested in that right now is karzai himself. have we lost interest in that issue? >> the troop number is linked to leverage. importantly, the troop number is anchored with a critical triangle of the security, the elections that are coming up this year in afghanistan as well as negotiations with the taliban. i would say the tragedy of u.s. policy in afghanistan is that
this is one mr. place that we have had -- is one place that we have had significant amount of leverage and chosen not to exercise and greater diss integration in afghanistan as well as u.s. relationship in afghanistan. and indeed, the collapse of our security agreement, which is the deal that would allow u.s. forces to stay in afghanistan after 2014. our assumption heading into the negotiations was that it would be obvious to the extent that they are kind enough to devote any troops to stay, they would jump on that and not miss the deal. and we have found ourselves perplexed that president karzai has refused to sign the deal and
making up a variety of conditions, some of which cannot be satisfied and is himself turning by loss of the security agreement is what he believes is leverage on his part. to go back to your question, 10,000 troops make the difference, i would say yes. see where we are in the security situation in afghanistan. the afghan security forces have made great strides. they are far morrow bus, far more competent than they were a year ago. they had -- they are now providing security in afghanistan on their own for about half a year. the taliban over the past several months launched a intense campaign that is sustained at the current level. afghan security forces have not budged and assured themselves of the tech any cool route that better than any of us thought. they are still entrenched and the afghan security forces are no where near to defeating it. and the advanced security forces are critically suffering from a
host of key decisions. these decisions are not surprising our effort to stand up the afghan security forces. knew that they would be here in 2014 and since 2009-2010 we have been telling the afghan, don't worry, we will be embedded in the 10,000 force number and we are telling them, maybe not. you are on your own. your logistics are deeply troubled. too bad. you have to cope. your intelligence capacity and do bad. we have been promising we would help and not we are not. we are both overestimating the troubles and difficulties that afghanistan is facing and
jeopardy icing the potential -- jeopardizing to strengthen the real accomplishments that have taken place by prematurely pulling the plug on afghanistan. but let me come back to the number. i agree with the pentagon assessment. either we have a meaningful commitment that can help the advanced security forces tackle the taliban insurgency and other insurgency groups or we go out. if the number is somewhere in between simply for the show or because the only hope to use the forces left to strike these targets but define these tarts such as al qaeda targets in pakistan, we are turning our troops into sitting ducks and provoking the relationship between afghanistan and pakistan and further justifying the taliban insurgency.
so either we recognize we can still contribute and make the contribution meaningful that protects our interests in the country, in pakistan and in regional cooperation or we decide these interests are no longer worth and we go out. we come back to the elections. afghanistan is at the moment of profound uncertainty. a lot has been accomplished, but the future is deeply troubling and uncertain. and afghans are watching what the united states will do. they want the afghans are hoping that the united states will have extension of military force but they are watching the elections. the elections are an opportunity to renew the deficiencies that have plagued the country for several years. there is opportunity to -- but the elections can go
disastrously wrong. either through violence or extended political crisis and even if they do not go wrong, the process is likely going to be dragged out well into the fall of 2014, into october, november, 2014, even without a major crisis associated with the elections. if we do not have a bilateral security agreement and waiting for the next government to sign a security agreement, we might find ourselves in december 2014
with zero bilateral agreement and the options defacto as opposed as a result of a structured decision on our part. my last point, however, is that the u.s. policy should get away from constantly badgering president karzai. unfortunately, it only makes him believe that his his move is a smart play that gives him leverage. we should reduce the pressure and lay our cards out. if this is a b.s.a., this is what our commitment would look like and not be selfish interests such as al qaeda targets in pakistan but it would meaningfully contribute to afghanistan and up to them to sign it. as long as we continue in negotiations with president karzai, he continues to believe he has leverage and can milk more out of that leverage. and he unfortunately completely discounts the options because he is persistent because his
strategic perspective is fundamentally different than the u.s. washington -- the united states government is increasing continually asking, do we have an interest or stake in afghanistan? is this through balancing to the east, to china. is this a key threat to foreign policy. karzai believes that afghanistan is the center of u.s. foreign policy, that the occupation being the great game in central asia. and he has persuaded that the u.s. can never walk away from afghanistan and forever needs afghanistan as a strategic platform for engaging russia and for engaging with china. and there is a profound conception that leads parallels of the policy.
>> let me to michael, what president karzai has in common with the kim family is they believe the center of u.s. policy has been about their country. we have had that discussion when kim jung il was alive. two questions about the north koreans, first did we get him wrong? two years ago, the intelligence estimates that you were hearing about was that his uncle was going to be running the country and the military wouldn't put up with what they viewed was a spoiled untested leader? and second, did we get the chinese wrong here?
while we understood they wanted stability more than anything else on the korean peninsula, did we believe that they would -- have the capability, the desire to rein in the north koreans that has been made clear during the bush administration and obama administration they simply can't do? >> very good questions. i think what the latest events in north korea yet again demonstrate is just how thin our knowledge is about the north, even though frankly, it's leakier than it used to be. in the case of the persian execution, the south korean intelligence, anticipated this and disclosed it a few days in advance. not like there is no information coming through. but there this was a misreading in many circles of the way power is structured in the north, the capacity for a member of the kim family to dominate, because it is a dynasty. and the fact that he may have
been a young kid, at the end of the day didn't seem to matter. even if he seemed in a lot of the actions to take on deeply entrenched interests. in a very short period of time, he has moved against, that is to say two years, moved against all of those core leaders who supported his father, including a number of people in uniform. he has had his uncle executed, which is extraordinary, and he has defied the chinese repeatedly. so there is something going on here that we still don't fully grasp. the counterargument may be about mr. kim is the fact that the extraordinary things within the north korean system have now been disclosed. here was supported by kim jung il, but a signal to the people of north korea that maybe they are not all wise and seeing what goes on within their borders. some people say that it will. but for the moment, and i think
probably for the foreseeable future, we see him consolidating his power and going his own way, building a ski slope, inviting dennis rodman. >> that worked out really well. >> as for china, the irony in the situation, the chinese have long inceased to us and to others that they did not have the influence that we believe they could have or should have on the peninsula. and in this case, it may well have been true. there's very little to suggest that china had advanced awareness of what was going on, the imminence of the purge and
execution, the irony here being that the chinese here over the last four, five years have invested in north korea in terms of a much heightened economic role and the presumption being in china that when kim jung il had a moment that they could make their influence felt. and maybe this time convince the north to look at politics differently, to look at their future differently. they want to be prepared for their collapse, any of the of of. what it illustrates is the failures with respect to intelligence and with respect to policy our collective failures. no one has been able to get this place right or understand whether there are levers that can be turned in any kind of meaningful way. for now we are stuck am a but as i tried to argue in the piece, the question over time the chinese see enough of a risk and a danger in north korea that they can be nudged towards
higher-level of cooperation with us and the south koreans. >> one last question and then we will turn to suzanne. you are just back from the region. the other interesting assessment the u.s. had last year was that the chinese would really be consolidating power by focusing on the domestic economy, worrying about the slowdown in growth, and so forth. instead we have the uncertainties that come out of their identification of zones, territory and the philippines. is it surprising to you that the chinese are pouring all that effort into that this early? >> what xi is trying to do is reinforce his power at home.
he is a different kind of leader and is less hesitant in demonstrating that. the chinese are juggling a complicated agenda, he and those around him do not want any suggestion there is weakness and vulnerability on china's part that others can take advantage of. the other access -- the other art of this is this is a phenomenon -- the other part of this is this is not just a phenomenon in china, but it is all through asia, the rebalance. if the intent here was the united states could find a way to deal credibly not only with china but all the other states in the east asia in an effective way and give them a shared sense
of cooperation, it has not turned out that way. that palpable tensions between japan and south korea, the issues between china and japan, the fact that you have more assertive leaders in all the capitals here is not exactly what the administration had bargained on, to say the least. >> suzanne, one area is fairly clear that leverage has worked is it iran. the sanctions got ramped up. the sabotage of the a rainy and program got -- of the iranian program got ramped up, and that along with election of a new leader brought about changes that a year ago many of us cap would have gotten this far. the question is, how much time do we have to actually strike a real deal here before rouhani runs out of running room with the revolutionary guard, before obama runs out of running room with congress? >> thanks, david. you are right in that what we
have seen the success of strategy that was built on the assemblage of real and powerful american leverage, what we would like to see in american foreign policy, a long-term investment, not just as sanctions or covert programs you have written about so widely, but also in the assembly of a convention in isolating iran and isolating them to the system that was so powerful in changing the leadership priorities there. there was also -- and it should be credited to the obama administration, just not as a long-term investment, but and exploitation of an opportunity presented it. the administration was pursuing diplomacy, attempting to get engaged with the iranians when the pressure was ramping up through its highest level, at the time when the public image
was of a strategy that was almost and tiredly pressured and little engagement. the fact that those efforts continued when expectations were lowest enabled the strategy to pay off once the opportunity of the election came through. i think in terms of time and opportunity today, that the balance of opportunity on the iranian side. rouhani was not an accident. he was elected as a shift in the leadership to put forward a moderate the ship with the objective of getting a nuclear deal. everything since the days of june, and it was clear on the night that he was elected that this was going to be his primary mission. everything he has done since that time, the team he put in place, the speeches he put in place, the trade-offs he made in terms of his domestic priorities where he moved much less progressively than many who came
on the streets had hoped. his investment is in the program, and the iranian leadership has given him an opportunity to make a deal. together it just comes in the interim agreement, not just that it was concluded with relative rapidity. a year ago, we only discussed this document. the idea that it would pay off within a span of 12 months, i would have been laughed off the stage if i made that assertion. instead we got a comprehensive interim agreement in terms of what the iranians agreed to at as confidence-building measures. never have we seen them to agree to sign on such a wide array of his constraints on their program, although it is nowhere near what we will you looking for in the final agreement. >> that takes me to my follow-up
question. if you view as this as a freeze agreement, a tiny rollback, the final agreement mostly has to be about rollback, about withstanding the amount of time that the rains would need to raise a bomb. tell us how that will play inside the rainy and political theater. >> it will be an excruciating negotiation. we saw how hard it was to move to the implementation program. there were several attempts to the iranians to walk away from the table. it provokes a it of backlash in washington. in effect, the iranians have signed on at this point. they have gotten little in terms of sanctions or leaf. a couple of temporary billion dollars is important, but not extensional areas of their economy. that will not overcome the pain of their experience of the loss
of millions of barrels a day of exports now for several years. they need to deliver this to their people on the xp patients that rouhani needed to deliver to the supreme leader because they have been given a certain amount of running room. it is not meaningless, not holy fictional, but it is not at the stage where it is likely to under cover rouhani and will not help him unless he starts fiddling on the domestic agenda. i do not mean to understate the logistical constraints at head of us. if you read the piece by an experienced negotiator, you will see a nightmare scenario where this talk rakes down. at this point the iranians are in it for the long haul because that is where the payoff for
tehran is. the difficulty will be in washington because the administration has a fight on its hands with the congress that is near where no over. also obama has a fight with key allies on the region, and i do not think those disputes or obstacles to the administration here are likely to get easier in the short term. >> the one word we have not brought up yet in this discussion is syria. i wanted to ask to step in on this for a moment. first on the question of given the incredibly warm collegial atmosphere at yesterday's opening in geneva, what you expect to come out of this. and on the question of how putin
is going to play this. >> i am curious to hear steve's answer because i think a lot of the american diplomacy pushing forward to this geneva ii conference has been remiss on the notion that u.s.-russian concert could create leverage over the actors fighting in syria that otherwise, that could haves produce a negotiated end to this fighting, and otherwise there would not be a near-term end to this fighting. i have question that premise for a long time. i have been skeptical that the russians could we persuaded to change their view in backing a thought. if they change their view, would they be able to exercise leverage over assad? the reason this conference is
happening is because assad is feeling relatively confident. he is feeling confident in his ability to persuade more and more actors internationally, that the threat of sunni extremism in syria is sufficient to my that he is not the greatest threat to stability , and he's feeling confident militarily on the ground. the syrian opposition meanwhile had the power to say no to refuse to show up. reportedly, they ultimately did decide to come because they were threatened with the withdrawal of western assistance. this does not bode well for any concrete outcome from these talks, and as the conference has gotten closer and closer, the bar for success defined by those who convene it has gotten lower
and lower. in my own view, and i think the history of civil war has backed assad, sadly, the outcomes will be driven by the military else on the ground, not by negotiators in europe. >> i would have liked to be a fly on the wall in the conversation yesterday between obama and putin on the phone. >> i think it applies to cerium you have a time now of three months where there has been a degree of u.s.-russian cooperation with some success in terms of starting a process to get the chemical weapons out of syria and move toward elimination. but that corporation on them one
part of the syrian problem should not the skies the fact that when you are talking about the broader future, there are different ways that the united states and the russians look at issues. the russians do not want assad tossed out. they see him representing a degree of stability. the west, according to them, does not have a good answer to the question, what happens if assad leaves? with the military success that assad has been having the last couple months, they are confident. my guess is we are not going to see a lot of conversions between washington and moscow as to what should come out of the conference, even if they are cooperating successfully on how do you get the chemical weapons out. >> great. we are going to turn to you. there are microphones a about. and you get a microphone, tell us you you are and please actually put a question mark at the end of the question.
we will start with this gentleman right here. the mic is coming to you. >> hi. i have a question for jonathan. you talked about the u.s. eating incentives to -- the u.s. having incentives to countries in the region. can you tell us what those incentives would be, and what would be the new approach of the military ballots looking like in the new year, and in previous years there was too much emphasis on military components. and you were optimistic in the rebalancing strategy being well received. at your competing organization csi, they would like a 37% saying correctly that it was well-designed, and 39% said they did not.
different from what you described. and for it to be concluded sooner than expectation. thank you. >> it is fair to say that in retrospect of the rebalance policy it was significantly oversold by some of the proponents that advocated it. that said, the essence of it i think, as jeff and i tried to argue in our paper, makes sense. it makes sense because it is a framework, political, economic, and security, that the united states would wish to operate in this most dynamic region. the problems are ones of internal dynamics in the region that have undermined the overall context within which states over -- interact. and many of the u.s. problems in
terms of the dysfunction of our own government process, our preoccupations here, that among other things constrained and prison rented president obama to traveling to the region not so long ago, although he has now rescheduled a trip for asia. the issue at the end of the day is whether a policy can be based on the kind of a broad principle , or whether you need a sense of ongoing sustained engagement and movement to get where you want to go. i do not think the moves are all bad here. if you take the transposition partnership, some of the goals were -- and the china government looks at this in a much more measured way now. the instinct was anti-china, but that is not what it was intended to do. really, the longer term proof of the policy will not be a one- shot deal. it has to be something more fundamental that it will only be revealed in time rather than some kind of bold, hermetic gesture, cause what is the
alternative for the united states or anyone else question mark you do you find a framework within the states can are direct -- can operate him more than you have a situation that is very complicated. but we can see a lot of the practical challenges are much more manifest now and that it has to be demonstrated not through words, not only through speeches, but through a capacity to really sell critical problems. on that the verdict is still
out. >> gentleman right back here. the mike is coming back to you. >> hi. i am the correspondent for an austrian newspaper. there is no chapter about europe in that. i was wondering if that was because there was no success there, everything is rather boring as usual. the european parliament legends where we could have -- parliament elections where we could have all members of parliament will which would turn parliament into a more dysfunctional organization than it is, which would inhibit americans to come to a negotiation before. does that have to go through parliament? and why do you think the president used the opportunity of engaging with europe?
he was that popular when he was elected at the time, and now he is really unpopular. >> who wants to handle the european issue? >> when you look at the big question for europe, these sorts of issues you talked about, upcoming elections, things like that, they are not easy ones for the american presidency. from that, there was nothing you could write that would fit into the context. to the extent europe does appear in a number of cases, example, when we talked about how you deal with russia, you need to work with russia acknowledging any success of leverage is going to be greatly increased and you can be on the same page with europe.
>> let me build on that question. it struck me that the biggest outflow of the snowden revelations when you are traveling in europe have been more economic than diplomatic. they are unhappy with the bush -- the obama administration, just as they were unhappy for the bush administration for very different reasons. it strikes me that all this discussion of segmenting the internet, watching out whether you want to buy american products because the intelligence agencies may have built in back doors that that could have a longer-term impact on us than whatever the diplomatic outflows. >> i think the snowden affair illustrates something very important about residencies. you do not control the world. you do not control events. in this case, resident obama found his first year of his
second term, and maybe the entire four years of the second term have been to a certain degree hijacked i a very young contract employee from booze out of the decided to spill the beans on american espionage activities around the world. there is not much that the president can do to pull it back. it is all out there, and more of it is coming out all the time. he can try to present his point of view of who edward snowden is, that he is a thief, that he is maybe a treaty that -- traitor, but edward snowden can push back. he is going to be on the tv tomorrow. it illustrates the limits of power not just of the united
states, but of the presidency in general. we may look at the second obama industry should of an event that was something out of their control, which was reminding of the bush administration. the hurricane. he certainly did not control the hurricane. on the broader question of u.s.- european relations being damaged by this, you are right. it is the perception in europe that the national security agency is listening to every phone conversation, is watching every text message. all of that is ridiculous. the nsa would have to have may be 2 million or 3 million more employees to be able to read that stuff, and that would be a waste of the american tax dollars. that is the perception that is out there. it is hard to put that
perception back. it creates a dynamic in european politics that is working against us in serious ways about things like the u.s.-eu economic trade agreement. >> it is also the perception that high-tech american companies cooperating with the nsa is damaging to overseas countries who now say maybe we do not want to deal with those. >> and someone has. >> one of the big -- was can the president get out front of this to manage the damage from snowden, but also to protect american companies by working to preserve the internet that so far has been very successful for american economic interests. >> could you imagine in the next year a situation in which president putin comes to the
conclusion that hosting mr. snowden is no longer in his deep interest, that he is gotten what he wants out of this, and somebody shows up at mr. snowden's door and tell him his plane is ready? >> no. for whatever reason, what message does that send to any potential defector that the russians might hope to welcome in the future? i think from mr. putin that would be the measure that he would not want to take to make life more complicated for his intelligence folks. >> i have a question related to afghanistan. i think americans are perplexed because they see al qaeda now in iraq, syria, in yemen. they see the concentration
camps. what is our real interest in maintaining a large force in afghanistan with respect to these other problems? >> you touched on this before. >> them large portion we are talking about is something like 10,000. we are not talking about maintaining a force anywhere near the level that is the sustained. if afghanistan significantly deteriorates in terms of elliptical processes and the chances are in negligible, this will enable the return of terrorist activity to afghanistan in two ways.
first, the physical hostility of safe havens for jihadi groups. you asked me about negotiations with the top on, and one question is, to what extent is that how about an -- the taliban linked to al qaeda in ways that it can operate change? it owes a lot of debts, including very survival debts to support from external jihadi groups and to sever relations with al qaeda would be different. obama realizes that -- senior taliban leaders say that al qaeda was a plague to their rule. they are playing a game, providing support for al qaeda, but it does not mean that they would limit engagement.
one issue of visit: security. the other issue is the imagery, the psychological boost that would this would give to other selafi groups around the world. this should be the second time in the great power was defeated. they will portray it as defeated in afghanistan. there might still be a sense that sufficient violence and coldly to people may pay off and might sustain and support groups. that does not mean we should fight every terrorist group everywhere in the world. it does not mean we should
use drones anywhere. at the end of leverage, it is about us being selective about picking commitments, but also delivering on commitments and upholding the promises we have made. >> just to expand the question, because some of the issues raised with respect to al qaeda and the taliban in afghanistan have parallels in the broader middle east. you in your question no did we see al qaeda popping up in yemen and syria, and there are al qaeda affiliates present in a number of spots in the middle east. there are a lot of localized while its extremist's who for one reason or other may see an
advantage in embracing the al qaeda brand. but whose concern and sources of support is localized. it is important the united states, as it parses these threats, continues to carefully takes discussing regime -- differentiations. when i look at the trajectory of u.s. policy is headed in a middle east, across north africa, egypt, the levant, syria, and iraq, and down into yemen, where we do not have a clear orientation toward the broad transformation that is occurring in the broader middle east, but we have a lot of worries about specific things we see, including violent extremism. there is a danger in responding to a by day to those urgent security situations, we re- create the paradigm that president obama came into office wanting to dismantle, of a broad-scale war on terrorism,
that drives our policy and drives the way we are perceived in the region and drives the way we structure our relationships in the region that is undergoing tremendous change. while there are some real threats, it is important for us to be able to distinguish what are local, what are transnational, what is targeting us, and what is not. i would like to hear other people's views on that. >> i want to come back to the metamorphosis on al qaeda. we have been come as a result of the arab awakening and what has gone on in the arab world, that al qaeda cutting rebirth. it can exactly at the moment that the obama administration's hollis he against -- policy
against al qaeda created its greatest success, the death of bin laden. i agree with everything about the importance of the president of afghanistan. the administration is unable to make the case to the american people, which is the reason we need 10,000 american troops in afghanistan is to continue to drone war in pakistan. that is the vital national security interests of the united states. we do not want to see al qaeda core in pakistan rebuild like we saw al qaeda rebuild in iraq. the drones are not the answer to al qaeda, that they are surely a very good weapon to have in your
hand when you deal with al qaeda. my concern is if the united states gives up that weapon in afghanistan by having no bases for operation after 2014, we will see al qaeda rebuild and regenerate as fast as we saw it regenerate in iraq. >> is there an alternative here? let's say we lose the main base in afghanistan. is there an alternative, either from ship or elsewhere in the region, given the extended reach now i've drones, that you would not necessarily need to launch them from afghanistan? >> short answer, no. the technology does not change. you can launch operations over the northern part of pakistan where al qaeda operates, i, i don't think so. if you launch them from the arabian sea, they are likely as to be unsuccessful as desert i was in watching it. the irony here is it is a covert
operation. a covert operation that everybody talks about, and you can go to the excited to see every attack laid out, but the administration has its hands tied, but it does not come back in public and say that real reason we want 10,000 guys is to whack al qaeda in pakistan. >> from brookings. since we have our middle east and asian experts here, i would like to ask the following question relating to our geopolitical posture in the gulf and elsewhere. do you feel the states, the oil- producing states in the gulf, have dealt with what is implied by the fact that increasingly the overwhelming demand for oil and gas in the gulf is going to be in asia and not in europe? and about how that is going to change their strategic posture with the asian nations that will be the bulk of their revenues?
and likewise for the asian experts, do you think south korea, japan, china, india, and others have come to terms that as they become more import dependent from the gulf that they have to assume a strategic posture to protect the ceilings -- the sea lanes and assets and that they cannot count on americans to do it, and i would add this is what i do not necessarily agree with that kind of continuation of american policy in the region because our strategic interests are going to lie elsewhere. >> i will kick it off briefly because i just came back from the gulf. and so had a chance to hear from folks about this directly. i will say couple things. for one is some of the disputes, the talks with iran, and so on that bruce was talking about in his piece in the u.s.-saudi relationship, there is an underlying anxiety in the gulf of which is about the point you're making, charlie.
what are u.s. interests in our region where we are used to having you as the security guarantor in an area where you do not need our energy anymore? and the rest of the world is free-writing on the free investment in gulf security. that underlying anxiety is coming from their recognition of this broad shift. their recognition in their most honest moments that they do not actually have a mechanism for maintaining regional order themselves without an external great power. they have never done it. they do not have it amongst themselves. we have tried in various ways to help build up that capacity, but it is nowhere near there yet. i think they acknowledge also that from their perspective, the
chinese, the indians, or other rising powers are at least a couple decades away from having the capability to take on any kind of role like that, even if they are interested in doing so. they feel deep-seated anxiety that may be the u.s. is turning away and there is no alternative. now, my own view is i do not think we are turning away. in many ways because of the crises in the region, but also because of our interests, we are nailed to the ground in the middle east right now. the broader trend you are describing is one that i think is going to continue to raise questions in these relationships and disputes in the years to come. >> i want to hear from susanna on this. one of the concerns you here in the region is if there is a deal with the iranians then air ron -- iran is free to run off and become its own agent in the region. >> first to the gulf state posture, the gulf states are perennially insecure.
that refix their capacity, but also the world you that is ingrained from centuries of relationships with outside greater powers, and so i think this sort of discourse -- and the free-rider issue, we have never been more dependent on gulf oil and most of our economic partners. we have had a major security commitment. we made our investment in gulf security when a time when europe was more dependent on oil exports and we were. it is integral to the american vision of itself as a superpower to maintain an investment in the free and reasonable reliable flow of energy from the major producers of energy around the world. i think that will endure as long as we maintain our commitment to being the world's superpower. in terms of iran, the iran to
go sheesh and heightened these issues in the gulf states, but there is no outcome to the new two-tier -- to the nuclear divisions that will lead to iran's revival as a regional economic power, because the nuclear negotiations themselves are wholly unlikely, it is impossible to conceive of any scenario under which a nuclear negotiation leads to the lifting of a comprehensive u.s. embargo on iran, which is the major hit on investment, particularly to the energy and technology sectors. attack iran has not been able to access its ong is why iran is a net importer of gas, despite having some of the largest reserves in the world and despite the one of the early adapters to trans regional gas